Arsenal: Alex Oxlade Chainberlain, Abou Diaby, Lukas Podolski & Yaya Sanogo - Out; Mathieu Flamini & Jack Wilshere - Doubtful
Crystal Palace: Jack Hunt, Patrick McCarthy, Glenn Murray & Jonathan Williams - Out
Crystal Palace: None
Crystal Palace: LLLLL
Ordinarily the last club manager-less Crystal Palace would want to face is an Arsenal side who are in searing hot form. However, the fact Arsenal were made to taste defeat for the first time in age poses questions about their traditionally fragile mind-state. So obviously better are Arsenal will they get complacent? Let us not forget that the game is a derby. Whilst nowhere near as fiery as the annual jousts against Tottenham and Chelsea, the smaller derbies tend to be a forgone conclusion. I suspect this is down to a inferiority complex. Palace will do well to remember they have home advantage and can force Arsenal into a scrap by making the game as narrow and difficult as possible. Finally, as Ian Holloway has resigned, Palace will want to show their fans and indeed send a message to the former manager that they still have some fight in them; Arsenal is the perfect team to show this mettle.
In captain Mile Jedinak, Palace have such a player that personifies this spirit. Jedinak has made 35 tackles (4.4 per game), 29 interceptions (3.6 per game), 36 clearances (4.6 per game), has blocked 4 shots (0.5 per game) and he has managed to do this being as efficient as possible: he only has one yellow card which is down to him only committing one foul per game. The only problem is he is continually overworked and subsequently dribbled by which is down to his sides poor passing (which is to be expected) but also down to his fellow midfielders not putting in the work (not expected).
Jose Campana has only 8 tackles to his name in 6 games (1.3 per game) and only 4 interceptions (0.7 per game). Conversely he has not been dribbled around much, but this is attributed to the fact he is often out of position rather than him shadowing Jedinak. The role of shadowing falls to Kagisho Dikagacoi and he has found himself out of his depth. 8 tackles (1.6 per game) and a pitiful solitary interception (0.2 per game) is just not on.
Whilst it is true the majority of their goals has been from set-plays, their passing accuracy and attacking play is already limited, placing more restrictions on it would mean they would have less opportunities to score from. Whether or not Holloway did the correct thing is another issue altogether but I can certainly agree he was at the end of his tether. Truth be told this Palace squad is up there (irony) with Watford 99/00 and 06/07; Derby County 07/08; QPR of last season; Sunderland 02/03, 05/06 and perhaps even the current Sunderland team.
For this reason I cannot see anything other than an Arsenal win, but Palace will keep things interesting. Marouane Chamakh will have something to prove against his former employers and he is having something of a renaissance. Having averaged 5.6 headers per game, created a chance a game (normally poor but considering how bad Palace have been, not bad) and having put in more challenges than his midfield colleagues (13, 1.6 per game), he is going someway to shed his lazy tag.
Crystal Palace 2 - 4 Arsenal
*All statistics courtesy of WhoScored